Last month was full of the well wishes and questions that one gets at a milestone. It marked one year since I was sworn in as the 39th sheriff of Lexington County.

Whether it was small talk or community events, so many people asked about how things were going at the Sheriff’s Department after one year, I’d like to share with you in this space some steps we’ve taken that will translate into a more responsive agency.

Medical transports – For reasons of safety in certain situations, state statute requires mental health patients to be transported to inpatient treatment facilities by law enforcement officers. These transports were becoming longer trips for our deputies because of the distance traveled to available facilities in other regions of the state. That’s why we’re grateful to Lexington Medical Center’s public safety department for taking the lead on medical transports to facilities outside the Midlands. This partnership, which officially begins July 1, will allow more of our deputies to spend their shift here in Lexington County answering calls for service.

Helicopter grounded – When our helicopter was facing significant maintenance needs late last summer, it caused us to reevaluate the need for a full-time aviation program. We eventually decided to ground the helicopter as a department resource and put the money we’ve been spending on it back into our operational budget. With SLED having multiple aircraft available a short distance away, any aerial operational needs we might have will easily be met by these state agencies.

These are just two of the decisions we’ve made after looking long and hard at our budget in an effort to allocate revenue in a way that makes us more efficient and customer-friendly.

We’ll continue to tighten our belt and provide a high level of service to our citizens because we know the high quality of life that we enjoy begins with feeling safe.